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Aug 27, 2003
How To

How to Land a Job at TBWA/Chiat/Day - Hiring Secrets Revealed

SUMMARY: TBWA/Chiat/Day has hired more than 100 new full-time employees since this June, and they are still looking for more people, especially in New York. Ever dreamed of working there? We interviewed their HR team to get all the secrets.

(By the way: Please share this link with anyone you know who is looking or who would simply find it a fun read. Thanks.)
Tara Guttridge
HR Manager
488 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10022

Ever considered working for a big-shot advertising agency?
TBWA/Chiat/Day has offices in LA, San Francisco, New York, and
Toronto, to name a few, and, thanks in part to the recent
Nextel win, the New York office of the company is in serious
hiring mode.

By next week, they will have hired 100 full-time employees since
June 2 of this year, and they plan to continue hiring for the
foreseeable future.

Here is some useful information from Tara Guttridge, HR manager
for the New York office, including:
a. Company backgrounder and clients list
b. Corporate culture notes
c. 3 best ways to get your foot in the door
d. 7 tips for interview "home runs"
e. Biggest interview mistakes for you to avoid
f. Inside scoop on their HR Dept

-> Company background

TBWA/Chiat/Day, a division of Omnicom Group, has been around for
about 30 years. Headquartered in New York City, TBWAWorldwide
operates over 225 offices in 72 countries. The agency's work was
recognized in 2001 with The Grand Effie for Nissan Xterra. This
was the agency’s third US Grand Effie in a row and its ninth in
15 years (three times more than any other agency).

Executives look for entrepreneurial, innovative thinking, and are
willing to take a chance on someone if they see a glimpse of
something unique. "For instance, in our account planning group we
hired an attorney whose experience was law," Guttridge says.
"She's incredibly intelligent, her background was diverse, and
someone here saw something in her."

To give you an idea of the company's mindset: They celebrate
"Disruption Days," in which they invite the client to come and
brainstorm with the president and top creative account people,
looking for ideas that have not been tried before.

They make sure, though, that they also invite folks from the
client side who do not necessarily have an automatic understanding
of what happens inside an agency. They are encouraged to bring
ideas, as well.

Clients of TBWA/Chiat/Day include Absolut Vodka, Embassy Suites,
Kenneth Cole, Kmart, New York Public Schools, and Pfizer.

-> Corporate culture notes

A quote hangs in the New York office's clubhouse. It reads: "Good
enough is not enough."

They are obviously a driven bunch of folks, but the sense we got
from Guttridge and TBWA's freelance recruiter Lise Katz is that
they are relatively laid back, too.

"Everybody interacts with everybody at all levels," Guttridge
says. "We all work in open areas, so an assistant could be
working next to an account director."

There are only a few offices (you know, for the president, the HR
director, the CFO) and the retail production center is in
cubicles, but the rest is an open environment.

There is no dress code (though one interviewee was apparently not
asked back for a second interview because of a low-cut top), and
"You can share a joke with the president of the agency. But you
need to know when to act appropriately," says Guttridge.

After all, there is politics in every office, no matter how

-> 3 best ways to get your foot in the door

#1. Send a resume to

While you might think you will get lost in the shuffle, Katz
assures us she reads every resume.

They look at the obvious: education, work experience, what
clients you have worked on, how long you' have stayed at previous
positions. They also look at outside interests, anything that
will make you stand out.

"We're looking for people with integrated backgrounds, people who
will partner with clients and not just offer them what has been
done before," says Guttridge.

#2. Network through someone you know within the agency.

If you do not know anyone, think creatively. One hopeful went
through his alumni agency and found someone at TBWA who graduated
from his own alma mater. Did he get a job? Well, no, but he got
as far as a second interview.

#3. Apply as a freelancer.

"We have a lot of freelancers on staff and a lot of times they
become permanent," Katz says. In fact, if she likes your resume
but does not have a job for you, she will call to explore freelance

-> 7 Tips for interview "home runs"

Successful interviews are pretty simple, says Guttridge: act like
you are interested, ask questions, smile, and look them in the

Seven more tips:

#1. No one-word answers

When asked a question, answer and then give an example. "Getting
a simple yes or no makes for a painful interview," says Katz.

#2. "I" not "We"

When you talk about your past experiences, do not go on and on
about "your team did this," or "we did that." Mentioning teamwork
is fine, but they want to hear about you as an individual.

#3. Prep for typical interview questions

They ask them all: What was your biggest success, what was the
most difficult project you worked on, what kind of management
style do you prefer. Be prepared with thoughtful answers.

#4. Go after the offer (even if you do not want it)

If you decide halfway through the interview that you do not want
the job, do not let it show. Continue to smile and go for the
gusto, since you never know who talks to who (the New York ad
world is relatively close-knit, and everyone talks).

#5. Have a good reason for job changes

In this economy, they are used to seeing more jobs on a resume
than they normally would, but they want good reasons for every

Say you were at your last job only for nine months. If they point
it out, you might say, "Oh, I know. I felt terrible leaving after
such a short time, but a woman I used to work for called me for a
project, we worked great together before, and I couldn't resist."

That is a good answer, Katz says.

#6. Stay focused

"We interview in an open area where there's a lot happening,"
says Guttridge. "We can tell that you won't work well in our
environment if you're not focused."

#7. Ask managers about their background

If you get past the HR interview, show a little interest in the
manager's background: How did you get to where you are, where did
you work before, etc.

-> Biggest interview mistakes

You should know better, but we will share some recent no-no's that
the HR team has encountered.

o Cell phones ringing during interviews (even worse, people
*answering* cell phones during interviews)
o Interviewees showing up late
o Not knowing anything about the agency
o Sending resumes to every executive listed on the Web site
prior to interview

Get this: "I had one guy tell me he was opposed to working
overtime," says Guttridge. "We don't require you to work around
the clock, but it is advertising and there is such a thing as
overtime in every job."

-> The inside scoop on the HR team

They do not rely solely on resumes that come in. "If we need
something immediate and don't have a pool of candidates, we use
recruiters," says Katz.

They use the Gumbinner Company, Vintage Resources, and Ellen
Abrams and Associates, among others. They also advertise on
HotJobs and Craigslist.

Guttridge (HR manager) loves the NY Yankees. Katz (recruiter) is
big into jewelry classes and metalwork. The HR Director, Mary
Cabrera, is currently on maternity leave.

Brianne Sullivan is HR Coordinator. Sorry, no inside scoop on

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